Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business

24Jul/120

Mobile Trends: Part 2 of 2

The Silicon Valley Innovation Summit 2012 showcased some exciting mobile startups. Some of them are listed below:

Moxie: Tom Kelley, President and CEO introduced his company as a communication/collaboration space that helps companies connect with their customers through Moxie's channels such as email, chat, phone, etc. It is growing at 40% and what differentiates Moxie from other communication spaces is the management of internal and external communication to build a repository of business intelligence.

BAMMTV: Chris Hansen, CEO introduced BAMM TV as a music startup that is creating, distributing and monetizing music of HD quality content for 3 yrs. It is different form other music startups as it does not need major label licensing as the artists are not famous and upload their own music. Profit is shared 50-50 between BAMM TV and the artists. BAMM TV also has global distribution rights.

Infinigraph: Chase McMichael, CEO compared Infinigraph to comScore and Nielsen – it identifies which customers are most relevant and helps in content marketing intelligence and how much content to create. Some of its customers as seen in the examples below have used Infinigraph to identify what content engages their customers and when (time of day/day of week) is it most engaging.

My Life: Jeff Tinsley, CEO introduced My Life as an online identity management tool to manage all personal and professional connections. It also finds new connections.  My Life has basic free services and advanced subscription services.

There were many other interesting companies to watch out for - here is a list of the top 250.

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23Jul/120

Mobile Trends: Part 1 of 2

On July 23rd, I attended the Silicon Valley Innovation Summit, 2012 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.  It was on mobile trends and touched areas such as cloud computing, mergers and acquisitions, SaaS services and upcoming mobile startups.

One of the panels was on mobile trends, how existing companies can reinvent themselves for the mobile space and what mobile models are likely to emerge. The panel consisted of the following mobile leaders:

Host: Aaron McDaniel, Sr. Director Business Development, AT&T           Sanjay Poonen, Head of Mobile Division, SAP AG, SAP                                   Martin Frid-Nielsen, CEO, Soonr         Laura Yecies, CEO, SugarSync          Kathleen McMahon, VP, Sales & Marketing, SoundHound                                                     Ty Allen, President, MokiMobility

Question: Where are we in mobile industry life cycle?

Sanjay: Of 200,000 SAP customers we have a fraction in mobility so early stage              Martin: at the beginning where we emphasize on ROI and mobile productivity                      Laura: slightly ahead in terms of penetration but not in full usage/diverse usage potential

Question: Where are the most exciting areas of growth?

Ty: evolution in different purpose filled devices – non traditional form factors – example: device to control a tractor                                                                                        Kathleen – auto industry as it’s the largest mobile network and quicker iteration cycles                                                                                                                           Laura – prefers purpose filled devices but wants to stick to standard devices that act differently for various purposes – efficient and less costly                                                                  Martin – word mobility means lots of things (people here have 3 devices – tablet, phone, laptop) so cut down on extras; opportunity most on tablets                                             Sanjay – managing mobile security and diverse complexity; apps reduce paperwork will increase but include better fun filled easy to use interfaces; example: pilots suitcases have lots of paperwork that can be replaced with an iPad

Question: How do cloud and mobile influence each other?

Laura- mobile driving cloud...thank you Steve Jobs for not putting a USB on the iPad                 Kathleen – cross platform connectivity is attractive in cloud                                            Martin- share across devices is critical and cloud does that; cloud ties all devices together       Ty- MokiMobility has found a niche between mobile and cloud but there are tons more that are not explored                                                                                                               Sanjay – build a cloud infrastructure first instead of later

Question: How do existing companies reinvent themselves?

Kathleen – songs were heard first then recorded then we had Shazam and now we have Soundhound                                                                                                               Martin – definition of work is changing – people now work on the train and from home so existing companies should leverage that; cultures influence mobile behaviors like Japanese either work or drink so mobile TV and karaoke apps do well there

Question: Should we think of global first or local first?

Martin – 2 models - build vertical and solve a needor try different use cases and pivot           Laura- Europe was a little behind 10 yrs ago when I worked at Netscape but now it's not like that. If you decide to wait someone else will move into those markets                                  Kathleen – global mindset is a no brainer but what features and strategies to grow is local                                                                                                                              Sanjay – correlation between mobility and population growth – China, India & Brazil – fastest growth will be through phone not tablet in highly populated countries

Question: How do you see AT&T act as a bottleneck?

Sanjay – AT&T should build a network in developing countries                                              Martin – look for shortcuts to market, build awareness                                                        Laura – cost, battery life, security                                                                              Kathleen- bottlenecks are actually in consumer brain bandwidth – consumers concentrate only on 7 apps so to stand out we need to really differentiate, deepen utility one app instead of 7 Sanjay – telepresence experience maps on iPad

Question: What mobile models will emerge?

Sanjay – willing to listen to new models – freemium or free. We should throw traditional models out– models based on traction, engagement on Facebook and Twitter that are adapted to mobile                                                                                                                         Martin – consumer vs. business – willingness to pay for things so that data doesn’t walk out with employees, models flexible to include how data plans evolve, mobile operators have tremendous opportunity, hardware people struggling so many models to include them.                                                                                                                                                                                 Laura- interest and business should be aligned.  Example: monetizing through ads not in consumer interests so not the best model                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kathleen- top line revenue and diversification is key- people will pay for a free version in the future if that is achieved

Question: What is your advice for mobile entrepreneurs?

Ty – look for opportunities that customers are always asking for                                           Kathy – be design driven                                                                                                   Laura – look for life trends – people spending more time with family, etc. and then design                                                                                                                         Martin – use a simple strong use case                                                                              Sanjay – watch how young use (20s) and how kids use mobile apps/devices and learn

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31Oct/110

Using the Four Actions Framework to Craft a Firm’s Strategy

A firm has to have a clear vision in the form of a strategy to define who it is and where it wants to go. Sometimes somewhere along the way this strategy gets blurred and its customers can't differentiate it from its competitors. The four actions framework asks four questions to sharpen the focus and realign the firm's game plan. The four actions framework can also be used to reconstruct customer value in an industry to identify a gap or find new value. The four questions as seen in the image identify factors that reduce, eliminate, raise and create value.

Let's apply this to a case study- PetSmart vs. Petco. You can read the detailed analysis in my paper here - Petsmart vs Petco - 4 Actions Framework or get the highlights below.

Industry analysis

PetSmart and Petco compete in the Pet Care Industry which includes pet food, clothing, healthcare and other pet services. This is an attractive industry based on Porter's 5 forces analysis (read paper for details) with spending reaching $41 billion/year (number which doubled from a year ago). Americans spend more on pet care than what they spend on movies, video games and music put together.

PetSmart’s strategy was to connect emotionally with pet owners by providing services (services strategy) such as adoption, grooming, training, day care and pet hotels. These luxurious pet services made pet owners feel that their pets were being treated as well as family and thus commanded the higher market share (30%) of the pet care industry. Petco their rival which held 20% market share concentrated on selling a larger variety of pets at a premium price (11% more than PetSmart). As PetSmart was a services strategy it partnered with alliances such as Banfield to help in hospital needs and its stores were located in “power centers” unlike Petco whose stores were “neighborhood pet stores” and much smaller in size.

Recommendations to PetSmart to Refine their Strategy using the Four Actions Framework

Raise: Continue to focus on services and add to these based on trends. For example pet obesity is a big trend hence providing pet diet plans and support will grow the pet food (diet meals for pets) vertical as well as services vertical (customer support), which is recurring revenue and ties into their current strategy. A limitation of this suggestion is that existing diet plans companies can easily enter this market with some modifications to their food to cater to animals.

Create: Provide pet super stores: hotel, grooming and hospital all in one. Owners will be willing to come to pet super stores. Based on maximum revenue based on location super stores that are a one stop shop for all pet owners can attract and even take away from mom and pop stores. Visiting vets from Banfield (PetSmart's already existing pet hospital) can be a part of this super store. This will also increase revenue for other verticals. For example, after the dog is treated at the vet the owner may pamper him or her at the spa and then buy the month’s food supply at the pet supply store. A limitation of this suggestion is that a lot of capital is required to create this and Francis is already working on expanding his pet hotels so this suggestion can probably wait once that is implemented and a detailed cost-benefit analysis of this suggestion is carried out.

Raise: Owners like to be a part of the pet grooming ritual as it fills an emotional need for the owners. Provide see -through rooms where owners can watch pets being groomed or trained while they wait (instead of waiting in waiting rooms). Remember, this is a business that caters to human needs through the pet. Feelings of belonging, care and connections are expressed through pets and sharing in these activities only strengthens the connection. A limitation of this suggestion is that this may be a small market (or not). In today’s busy world few may want to watch their pets being groomed. Again market research and testing will clarify this point.

Eliminate: As only 2% of their revenue comes from selling other pets such as birds and fish, etc evaluate if you still want to keep that business or use the revenue from there to better focus on the lucrative services, supplies and food verticals at PetSmart. A limitation of this suggestion is that this will change or limit the scope to only dogs and cats.

31Mar/110

Trends in Web 2.0: Part 2 of 2

This is continuation of an earlier post on my learnings at the Web 2.0 Expo.

4. Mobile Payment is a big deal: Osama Bedier, Google's VP of Payments, gave an excellent presentation on the future of mobile payments. Mobiles are everywhere (more mobiles in the world than toothbrushes) and Bedier gave an example of how Tesco lets its customers scan the products in their shopping carts with an app (image on right; great example of how online data integrates with offline data). Total payment is computed by adding up all the items in the shopping cart but online payment is still not possible. Bedier suggests that online payments need to revert to old school thinking where you could visit your local grocery store and the owner recognizes you and suggests your favorites or tells you when the item that you couldn't get will come in or if you want it now where else will you get it and even let's you pay later if you forgot your wallet.

5.Sentiment Tracking and Analysis: As the internet becomes a two- way communication channel in the future measure human sentiment is a critical part of measuring engagement. Rosalind Picard, CEO of Affectiva,Inc has a glove that is a wearable, wireless biosensor that measures emotional arousal via skin conductance that grows higher during states such as excitement, attention or anxiety and lower during states such as boredom or relaxation. As it increases during excitement and anxiety she also tracks facial emotion to differentiate the positive from the negative emotion. You can try out this for yourself in the Forbes study.

6. Localization and Social commerce will be a bigger part of  e-Commerce: Dane Glasgow of eBay stated  how localization has helped eBay better cater to its customers and Susan Gregg Koger of ModCloth gave examples of how social commerce has increased customer participation and purchases in clothing and accessories at ModCloth.

eBay acquired Milo to better provide localization services. This helped eBay better serve customers who are in the cross channel - use online resources to research products they want and then go to the local store to buy them- and are important as the segment grows 5X/year.

ModCloth uses three tactics of social commerce to better serve its customers. The first is customers to name the dress/apparel and the winner gets it free. The second is to provide reviews with a twist by encouraging customers to upload pictures of themselves with the product. This encourages self expression and makes it personal. The third is to "act as a buyer" and decide if a product should be bought or skipped. This creates an online product line that is relevant and chosen by the customers who most probably will buy it as they participated in the buying decision.

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